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US lawmakers take aim at gaming’s “harassment and extremism” problem

Letters to gaming companies could be first step toward hearings or gov’t action.

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Enlarge / Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) has asked Valve to addres the prevalence of neo-Nazi accounts and content on its Steam platform.

US Congress members are once again turning their eyes toward the game industry. But this time the focus isn’t on loot boxes, Hong Kong, or even video game violence. Instead, lawmakers want to know what gaming companies are doing about “player reports of harassment and extremism encounters in your online games.”

That language comes from a letter that seven Democratic legislators plan to send later today, as reported by Axios yesterday evening. The lawmakers—including Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA), Katie Porter (D-CA), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)—are asking for more information on how those reports are handled, what data is collected regarding them, and whether the companies have “safety measures pertaining to anti-harassment and anti-extremism.”

Recipients of the congressional inquiry will reportedly include a veritable who’s who of major video game publishers, including Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Epic, Microsoft, PUBG Corp, Riot Games, Roblox, Sony, Square, Take-Two Interactive, Tencent, Ubisoft, and Valve. Nintendo is notably missing from that list, as are other Asian gaming giants like Bandai Namco, Sega, Capcom, and Nexon (not to mention the American Warner Bros. Interactive). Among Us maker Innersloth will also receive a copy of the letter, an addition that likely reflects that game’s impact rather than the company’s size.

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